A lot can happen in one year. A lot.
Just one year ago, at the age of 25, I was living in my parents' home, engaged to be married. I got laid off and wasn't exactly sure what was going to happen next. Now, I'm married with a baby on the way, we have a puppy, we're living in an apartment (about to move into a house), I own a couple of businesses and I work for myself on the internet. A lot can happen in one year.
I do feel very fortunate to be where I'm at today. That being said, I also know that it wasn't all luck. There are a few things I'd like to mention about how I think I got here, before I get deep into the numbers.
My Mindset for Success
Getting laid off sucks. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have never been laid off, it's kind of like getting punched in the stomach, losing your breath, and when you finally regain your lungs and get back up, you have no idea where you're at.
It's easy to panic, because it's human nature. I panicked for a day or two myself, but soon realized all it did was make me feel worse, and get nowhere fast. Think about this: in life and death situations, who are the ones that usually survive? The ones who panic and freeze, or the ones who focus and assess the current situation, and act accordingly? I did not want to become a victim of natural selection.
Getting laid off was not like coming to the end of a road, but rather arriving to a fork, one where I could decide where I would want to go next. We don't often think about it, but every single decision we make determines the course of the rest of our lives. I hate to get all philosophical, but it's important to understand, especially when you are ready to make an important decision in your life, like which college to attend, what your major will be, or what to do after a lay off. Thus, I gave some careful thought into my next decision.
One path I knew would lead me down a road that I was quite familiar with: I'd go out and search for another job in the architecture industry. It's the comfortable path that I had been down before, so it was really attractive to me at first. It was really all I knew.
There were two reasons why I didn't go down that path again:
- I thought about how happy I was the last time I was on that path. I liked my job, but I didn't like the kind of person I was when I got home from my job—tired, stressed, and grumpy. I didn't want to be that kind of husband or father.
- I wanted to explore what the other road had to offer, and I knew that if I had reached a dead end, I could very easily come back to the fork, and go down the road I was on before.
So, I made the decision to go full force with an internet business. I had a non-monetized blog that was getting some decent traffic, so I knew there was something I could do with this.
Know You're Right
When I was in architecture school at Cal, specifically in our semester long studio courses, we were required to make plans and build models for various types of projects. It was awesome because we could usually design the buildings however we wanted. The problem with that was, that left a million and one possibilities, which meant that we would have to determine a reason why we design something a certain way. When presenting our final designs to a jury (a group of panelists, usually local architects and designers. Yeah…that's how it worked), we must also give the reasons why.
“The building curves here…”
“Why does the building curve there?”
“Well, because it addresses the wind coming from the West.”
“Why is it at that particular angle?”
“Because it allows for views into the courtyard from North side of the building.”
See what I mean? Anyways, what I learned from this is that if you're going to make any kind of decision, you must be able to:
- Back it up from all angles; and
- Know you're right.
When deciding to go into internet business, I was fortunate enough to have the support of my family and friends. For many people, however, this kind of decision is met with immediate backlash from others, which will often lead that person to some kind of self-doubt.
Self-doubt, especially self-doubt implanted by others, is a killer. If you can back up your decision, and believe in yourself and know you're absolutely right, you're going to give yourself a better chance to succeed. Some of you may call that “delusive”, I call it “mandatory”.
In architecture school, even if your designs weren't that good, if you had a legitimate reason for them, you were given more credit than if you had an outstanding design for no apparent reason.
For whatever reason, I knew I was going to succeed with online business one way or another.
Knowing and Doing What It Takes
My next step was to figure it out. I read books, researched like hell, asked a billion questions, and even paid a monthly fee to join the Internet Business Mastery Academy so I could figure out exactly how it was supposed to work.
Please note that the link above is an affiliate link and I do earn a commission if you end up making a purchase. If you have any questions about IBMA, please let me know. Thank you!
Everything I had read helped, but nothing would of happened if I just read and did nothing. So, as I was learning things I put them into action. I learned about how to optimize my blog, so that's exactly what I did. I learned about outsourcing to do various tasks, so I did that as well. I even learned to create some type of information product, so I sat down and wrote an ebook for a couple months, which many of you know became my main source of income ever since.
I'm not a genius, nor do I consider myself an expert in anything. I got a 1240 on my SATs, and I still write “would of” instead of “would have” no matter how many times I try to correct myself. I forget where my sunglasses are, when they are on top of my head. I'm deathly afraid of spiders. I am not special! With the internet, we're all on level playing fields, so it's really the people who take action, those who learn and do, who will meet success in the future.
As I reflect on the past year, I can truly say that my lay off was the best thing that's ever happened to me. For some reason, my 9 to 5 job was masking the fork in the road that has been there the whole time. It just took an eye-opening experience like a layoff to really see what was available for me and my future.
Most of you are familiar with my monthly income reports. Well, here's my first ever annual report, a sum of all of my income from all of the different sources for the entire year. This goes from October 2008 through September 2009 (it doesn't include my latest report from October 2009).
Please note that these figures are best estimates and do not reflect my actual income for the year because income from the months of November and December may change as some companies do not pay until 30 to 60 days later because of the potential for refunds.
Here, I'll also give you a rough idea of what kind of expenses I've had. In total, I've spent over $20,000. That may seem like a lot, but just to be clear, most of these expenses are expenses that were made after my business was already created and generating an income. The total startup cost, including the domain, hosting, Paypal (payments pro) and shopping cart fees, and even the creation of my ebook, was less than $200 bucks.
Editor's Note: The content regarding eHow and Infobarrel is no longer relevant. Please visit our Getting Started page, which we keep up to date with advice for getting started with earning money online. (Updated 10/2015)
At the beginning, creating the business did eat up a lot of time, but I knew it was all an investment.
The green exam blog actually was built while I was working my 9 to 5 job, since it's primary purpose was to hold my notes for the exam before I took it. So during this time, I'd spend an extra 2 to 3 hours a day writing my notes on my blog. It was kind of like killing two birds with one stone, because I was studying at the same time as I was writing these blog posts, which I didn't know would get picked up by Google, but they did.
After I was laid off, I had all the time in the world to work on my business. When I finally decided to write an ebook, I'd spend 6-7 hours a day for over a month writing, organizing, and re-writing until I was satisfied with it.
After the business was setup, and the shopping carts and payment processors were all in place, and my ebook was launched, I'd spend about an hour a day answering emails and tweaking the website for better results. I soon created an FAQ, and was down to just working 15 minutes a day while earning a full-time income.
When I learned about product expansion, and decided to create an audio version of my ebook, I hired a voice talent to record the entire thing for me. It took about 2-3 hours to go over instructions with the person I hired, and after 2 weeks, it was complete. It took about a day to incorporate my new product into the existing website, update the shopping carts, make new buttons, etc. but after that was finished, I was back to only working 15 minutes a day, mostly answering customer emails.
Right now, I'm not quite earning enough to feel comfortable donating a large chunk of my income to charities and back to organizations that have helped me get to where I'm at, but that's a very important goal for me. With the baby coming soon, I want to make sure we're all good and set on his financial future first. Remember, a large chunk of my income goes back to Uncle Sam too.
The Smart Passive Income Blog is kind of my way of giving back at this moment in time, by providing helpful information and quality content related to how I got to this point. If I had a resource like this blog when I was starting out, I probably could of done even better, and reduced the amount of mistakes I've made in the past. Hopefully, it has helped you out in one way or another so far. If not, I apologize for wasting your time.
It's been a great year, a year I would have never imagined would ever happen. I just wanted to personally thank you for joining me on my online entrepreneurial adventures, and I hope I can continue on this path and take things to the next level again in the near future, and share my experiences with you.
I wish you nothing less than success. Cheers!